Tiling a bathroom or a kitchen can be a great DIY project if you take heed of a few simple and easy advice guidelines. It’s important to make sure that you have enough tiles and other related products – like adhesive, grouting and edging strips, so that you don’t get caught out half way through your project. Sometimes, if you run out of tiles, the supplier will not be able to provide more of the same tiles and you’ll be left in a sticky situation! Tiles are often given batch numbers as colours and textures can vary. If you’re planning a patterned tile design you need to be extra careful that you have the right quantities of different tiles to finish off your unique design.
Firstly plan your tile layout and then plan again and again. Mistakes can be costly and time consuming. As a general rule you’ll need to work out the square meterage and then add 10 per cent for cutting and breakages. Using a gauge rod can be very helpful as you can see how many tiles you’ll need for your wall and you can work out where to start and where you’ll have to cut extra strips. A gauge rod is basically a piece of wood with the size of the tiles - and the gaps for grouting between them - marked out on it. So before you start tiling you can work out where the tiles will be placed and where the difficult left overs will be.
Union Hardware can offer you the best professional advice about the square meterage you need plus what you require in terms of tile adhesives and grouting.
When you’re planning to tile a wall it’s important to ensure that you have a good surface to work on. Remove any old wall tiles and strip off old wallpaper if necessary. Make sure that the surface is clean, dry and flat and the plaster is not crumbling. If the wall is slightly uneven you can usually compensate for smaller bumps and cracks by adding extra adhesive when applying your tiles. In extreme cases you can re-skim the wall or use a tile backer board. Backer boards are cement based and provide a perfect surface for your tiles.
Carefully mark out the position of your tiles using a spirit level to ensure your lines are properly vertical and horizontal. Most people use a simple baton nailed gently to the wall to ensure that their first row of tiles is exactly level and a second baton to serve as your guide for the vertical layout. It’s usually easiest to start from one corner and then work inward.
Pre-mixed PVA based tile adhesive is easier and cleaner to use. Spread a small amount onto the wall using a notched trowel and place your first tile in position pressing gently to make sure it’s flat and level. The adhesive allows you a short time to gently adjust the tile position. Use spacers between the tiles to ensure you have even gaps. Tile edging strips are very useful for corners or steps to give you a professional finish and they usually have an edge strip that needs to go under the tile.
Cutting tiles for the awkward corners can be tedious and difficult. Union Hardware has a range of tile cutters available including both hand and power tools – some of which are easier to use – depending on the size of your project and your budget.
Once your wall is tiled and your edging strips are set, you’ll need to grout the spaces. Generally floor tiles have dark colour grouting while wall tiles have lighter coloured grouting but you can use your creativity to create impressive tile effects using other options. Pre-mixed grout is ideal – simply spread the grout on with a small trowel making sure all the gaps are filled, then wipe off the excess with a clean, damp sponge.